As more research is conducted, scientists are continually learning more and more about the impact we are having on the world around us. One of the biggest environmental impacts humans are contributing to is waste. Each year, it seems like the average amount of waste each person contributes continues to rise with no very little signs of stopping any time soon.

In a world where there are so many disposable goods, our trash cans are getting fuller, and our environment is feeling its effects. Thankfully, as researchers are learning more, we are also learning more about ways that we can combat this problem, along with many other environmental issues.

In this comprehensive guide, we will be exploring some of the many ways we can help improve the quality of our world and reduce pollution. One of the most popular ways for getting the word out about improving the environment is through participating in Earth Day. But, it’s important to remember that while one day can make a huge difference, there are 364 other days that you can be utilizing to make a difference. Because of this, we’ll also be exploring a way that you can make a huge difference by taking small, consistent actions–by reducing your waste.

Origination of Earth Day

In the mid-20th century, industrial America was booming. The economy was soaring. But, the environment was suffering. In the years before Earth Day, air pollution, noise pollution, and waste were a commonly accepted way of life with little thought to the potential effects of it on both people and the environment.

As time went on, people began to grow concerned about the actions being taken and it’s ultimate impact. After a terrible oil spill the year before, a senator from Wisconsin was sparked with the idea. With the help of others, the first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970.

It was a day where the American people came together to clean streets, pick up trash, and ignite the modern movement of environmentalism. Before this time, waste and the environment weren’t at the forefront of many people’s minds, but this started the conversation. Though it was only 10% of the population who participated on this day, it totaled to approximately 20 million people coming together and trying to make a difference by cleaning up the world around them. After a seemingly successful inauguration for Earth Day, the rest is history!

Half a Century in Review: A closer look at its impact

This year, April 22, 2020, was the 50th anniversary of Earth Day! Since its humble beginnings in 1970, more than 1 billion people each year dedicate their time helping make the world a better place. It is said to be one of the most recognized days of observance in the entire world.

For the first 20 years of Earth Day’s existence, it was regarded as a primarily American event. However, in 1990, it expanded, and people started making Earth Day a day of observation and action around the world. Today, over 190 different countries recognize and observe Earth Day, trying to do their part to help our environment and make the world more sustainable.

Earth Day hasn’t just been a day where people come together and clean up. It has had significant impacts on education about the environment and even sparked changes in policies and laws that help to protect our world.

Earth Day 2020 Virtual and Beyond

This year, Earth Day was one for the books. Not only was it the 50th anniversary of this amazing day, but it was also met with many challenges in the midst of a world-wide pandemic. With social distancing and stay-at-home orders, leaders were faced with many hoops to jump through in order to deem this huge anniversary a success.

Earth Day 2020 was 24 hours filled with calls to action. The theme was climate action, focusing on climate change and it’s impending effect on future generations. There was a huge push this year in the digital space to spread awareness, share information, and provide education on this topic for those all around the world.

While there was a huge virtual presence for Earth Day this year, there were still many socially distanced, at home suggestions on how to participate in the day.

While the day was a raging success, it’s important to remember that there’s more to being environmentally conscious than just participating in Earth Day each year.

How You can Help S.A.V.E. our Planet

Earth Day is a very important day each year, but it’s important to remember that it’s simply just a day. There are 364 other days in the year that we can be utilizing to improve our planet and make this world a better place for everyone to live in.

No matter what day it is, there are always things that you can do to help keep our planet clean and prevent any more pollution and waste. Whether you prefer using your voice and your platform or getting down and dirty to actually do the work, there are so many different ways that you can use your personal strengths to make a change! Here are the four main ways you can help SAVE our planet…

  • Speak Up
    Now more than ever, more and more people are able to speak up for things that they believe in. In the world of social media, everyone has a platform to share their voice. Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and the list goes on..If people see you speaking up about a particular cause that you are genuinely passionate about, chances are, there will be at least a few of your followers who will be interested or look into it!While sharing and spreading awareness on the Internet is a great start, there are also other ways you can use your voice including: starting a petition for a change in your local community, emailing and calling government officials to take action and make changes, and so much more. Using your voice can make a big impact and get people thinking about ways that they can make changes in their environments both on the personal level and on the global level.
  • Act
    In addition to speaking up, you can also reduce waste and improve the world around us by taking action, actually getting up and physically doing something to make a difference.There are big actions and little actions, but no matter the size, it can still make an impact! Whether you simply see some trash on the side of the trail during your afternoon walk and pick it up or you volunteer at a recycling center, all actions add up to making a difference. So, don’t worry if you can’t contribute too much time or effort. You can still make a difference!You can volunteer on various days and at various events throughout the year. Of course, you can get involved on Earth Day each year, but did you know that there’s an America Recycles Day every November 18 as well? Be sure to check out our article on America Recycles Day if you’d like more information on how to get involved.And don’t forget, you don’t need a day to take action! You could even make it a fun family affair! For example, you could take your family on a hike or a walk and hold a competition to see who can pick up the most trash. This not only will promote family time, but it will also instill the importance of keeping our community and world clean in your children.
  • Vote
    For the voting age demographic, you can always take your voice and actions to the polls. Becoming involved in local and federal elections can also make a huge impact on saving our planet. You can vote for leaders who prioritize and push for policies that will help clean up our communities.
  • Educate
    If you’re not sure who to vote for or you’re not yet able to vote, not all is lost! There’s still another way that you can help protect our planet! Not only can you educate yourself on prevalent issues that are going on in our environment, but you can also educate others.Thanks to technology, you don’t need a degree in environmental studies to learn about the impact pollution is making on our society and our world. Education and information are constantly at our fingertips and in our computer screens ready for us to learn and become even more educated.Once you educate yourself on the environment, ways to help, and so on, you can help educate others through speaking up and sharing your learning.

Reducing Waste

One big way that you can help S.A.V.E. the planet is by taking action through reducing your waste. In this comprehensive guide, we are going to focus on one of the biggest ways you can make an impact on your environment. We’re going to be focusing on ways that we can reduce waste because there are a multitude of simple and easily implementable strategies that anyone can do! By reducing waste, we can make a change!

Waste Statistics

Sustainability is one of the biggest issues facing the world today. As the world has modernized and become more advanced and efficient, trash accumulation continues to rise. According to the EPA, which has been collecting data on waste for over 30 years, in the United States alone, each person generates an average of 4.51 pounds of waste per day. That brings the yearly total of waste for 2017 to 268 million tons. What happens to all of this waste? Where does it go?

Well, one option is landfills. But, in recent decades, we are learning more and more about the detrimental, long-term environmental impact landfills and dumps are having. Thankfully, with the help of days such as Earth Day and many initiatives and programs, people are becoming more and more aware of the great effects waste has on our environment.

Why Reduce Waste?

In 1960, there were approximately 68 million tons of waste, whereas in 2017, there was around 268 million tons. The amount of waste is growing each year with no signs of slowing, but the world only has so much room. As you can see, waste is an ever growing problem not just in the United States, but all over the world. With mass production of waste from each human being, something must be done.

While the news of all this waste can seem so grim, there is also some positivity to share. Reducing waste and ridding of waste in alternative ways can make a difference. For example, recycling  increased 35% in 2017, which promotes reusing various materials instead of simply throwing them in a landfill.

Similarly, disposals to landfills once accounted for almost 95% of all waste generated in 1960 (a decade before the Earth Day initiative began) to only 52%. This also shows that people are beginning to care about how they dispose of their waste, and it is showing improvements. It should also be said that composting is another way to get rid of waste that is heavily on the rise.

With all of this being said, these upticks in people reducing their waste and disposing of their waste in different ways is having a positive impact on our environment. For example, with the composting and recycling done in 2017, it reduced so much carbon dioxide in the air, it could be equivalent to taking over 31 million cars off the road that year alone. Talk about a huge impact!

So, the reason you should consider limiting your waste and disposing of it properly is because it can truly make a difference in our environment. Just imagine if everyone started taking the steps listed below…

How to Dispose of Waste Responsibly

One way that you can help S.A.V.E. the planet on any day of the year is to begin disposing of your waste responsibly and mindfully. For years, many Americans would simply throw something in the garbage if it was “garbage”. But, thankfully, there is an ever increasing trend of evaluating your garbage and determining how to best dispose of the various items in a way that is significantly less harmful to the environment.

At Reduction In Motion, we make it our mission to help others learn how to best dispose of their waste that not only saves them money, but also helps to lessen their environmental impact. One of the things we do is actually perform waste audits, which is where we get nose deep in our clients trash and evaluate how they can best dispose of their waste responsibly.

Though we may not be able to come and perform a waste audit for your home, you can always do one yourself! Take some time and evaluate what you’re putting into the trash. You’d be surprised at all of the items being thrown away that can be disposed of differently.

Here are the three main ways to dispose of an item:

    1. Recycling & Reuse
      In essence, recycling is the process of taking materials that otherwise would have been regarded as traditional “trash” and finding new ways for them to be used. Sometimes, this could be a DIY project where you recycle glass jam jars to be paintbrush holders, but more often than not, you can recycle certain items to companies in which they break them down and reuse them for new products.Some of the most common items recycled include:

      • Plastic bottles
      • Plastic containers
      • Milk cartons
      • Cardboard boxes
      • Paper products
      • Paper
      • Cans
      • Glass jars
      • Glass bottles

While there are definitely more items than those listed above that you can recycle, this is just to give you an idea. Are there some items listed above that you regularly throw in the trash? You may want to consider recycling instead!There are many ways that you can recycle. Some areas actually have recycling trucks that collect recycling from various neighborhoods and some grocery stores, such as Target, have areas where you can bring your recycling and drop it off. You can also research different recycling centers to see what they accept as recycling and where you can bring it.

  • Composting
    Composting is when you take any organic matter and put it through a process in which it decomposes naturally. This naturally decomposed substance can then be used as soil fertilizer and other things that wouldn’t have been possible if you had simply thrown away these items. Composting has a multitude of sustainability benefits and in recent years, it has been found that approximately 39% of all waste is compostable.
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    There are so many items in a typical home that can be composted including:

      • Leaves
      • Egg shells
      • Banana peels
      • Orange peels
      • Coffee grounds
      • Tea bags
      • Dryer Lint
      • Food scraps

So many people simply toss their leftovers into the trash without a second thought! If you decide to conduct your own waste audit, we’d guarantee that you would be shocked by how much of your trash is items that can be composted such as the ones listed above. Consider helping the environment, limiting waste in landfills and composting these items.There are many ways to compost these items. You can simply start your own compost outdoors or you can collect your compost in an airtight composting container (to prevent smell from overwhelming your home) and send it to a composting facility near you.If you want to learn more about composting, be sure to check out our composting series by clicking here.

  • Landfill
    Once you have exhausted the other two options, typically what is left will be put in your regular trash bin and sent to the landfill. If you’ve evaluated your trash habit properly, you may be surprised to find how significantly smaller your actual trash will be. It will take you longer to fill, and you will be greatly helping the environment by weeding out the other items that you can responsibly dispose of.All in all, if you are wanting to make a difference and help S.A.V.E. the planet, you can start by evaluating your waste habits, then making the effort to take action and prioritize recycling and composting. After you have accomplished these things, you are well on your way to reducing your waste in the world!

 

13 Simple Ways to Reduce Waste in Everyday Life

Whether you have started recycling and composting or not, there are other incredibly important things that you can do in your everyday life to help prevent waste and unnecessarily filling up landfills.

Ideally, you would try these strategies in addition to composting and recycling, but these suggestions are a bit easier to accomplish. So, if you’re not in a place where you can have easy access to recycling or there’s no outdoor area for you to start composting just yet, try and utilize some of these simple ways to reduce your daily waste.

  1. Reusable Water Bottles
    Plastic water bottles are not only a huge contributor to waste, they are also completely unnecessary and less cost-effective than reusable water bottles. If you want to save money while also reducing waste, try buying your own reusable water bottle.Water is absolutely necessary for survival. Everyone needs to drink it every day in order to thrive, and why not use your daily consumption of water for good by using a reusable water bottle over single use plastic water bottles? You may be thinking, but I thought you could recycle plastic water bottles? Yes, you are right! You can recycle plastic water bottles; however, many people don’t make this a priority or if they do, they are still contributing to a form of waste. Why not simply eliminate this altogether by using the same water bottle every day?
  2. Reusable Coffee Cups
    Coffee is another staple that many people have almost every day. Some people may love coffee so much that they have it more than once a day. So, if you are frequently buying coffee or making coffee for yourself, consider getting and keeping a reusable coffee cup.[picture]While you may already do this when you are at home, some may not consider doing this while they are out, running to grab a coffee with a friend or getting some coffee on their way into work. Thankfully, many companies are trying to do their part to help the environment and are accepting, and even encouraging, this new trend by making their own reusable travel mugs for customers on the go.Give this a try and, little by little, you can help reduce waste and improve our environment.

  3. Bring Your Own Grocery Bags
    Another thing that people do on a regular basis is go to the grocery store. At some point or another, everyone needs to go and get groceries. But who knew your grocery trip could serve as the perfect opportunity to help reduce your waste?Plastic grocery bags are very bad for the environment. They are mass produced and contribute to a great deal of waste in the United States. Even though paper bags are considered a better option, the best option that is most helpful in your goal to eliminate waste is bringing your own fabric grocery bags.You can reuse these a countless number of times and it’s also important to note that they are generally a lot more sturdy and can hold more groceries than a traditional paper or plastic grocery bag.
  4. Reusable Tupperware
    If you take your lunch to work or pack your children’s lunch for school, you can greatly reduce your landfill waste by using reusable Tupperware and silverware. Even if you don’t do either of those things, you may be using Tupperware for leftovers after cooking a meal or eating a meal out.Now, thankfully to the trend of people being more conscientious of their waste, there are more and more stores that are making reusable Ziploc baggies available to the public. This is definitely a game changer waste reduction for anytime you have a leftover, you’re making your lunch, or grabbing a snack on the go.
  5. Reusable Dinnerware
    Similarly to reusable Tupperware, it’s important to help reduce your waste by using reusable dinnerware. You’d be surprised at the amount of people who use paper or Styrofoam plates and bowls and single use cups on a regular occasion. Yes, it may be tempting to use these items when thinking about having to do less dishes, but at what cost?Literally, it is not as cost-effective to continuously buy these single-use dinnerware items over time. Yes, a set of dishes may be more expensive upfront, but it will save you tenfold in the long run. It’s also really important to consider the environmental cost of using these items regularly as well!
  6. Reusable Straws
    Lately, there has been a huge trend of people requesting different straws other than plastic when getting drinks out. Whether it’s at a restaurant or a coffee shop, many companies are making efforts to come out with more environmentally friendly options for straws. But, in all reality, the most environmentally friendly and waste reducing option for straws is reusable straws.[Picture]Reusable straws come in a variety of materials. You can find reusable straws in plastic, metal, bamboo, glass, and more. You can even find portable reusable straws that will retract to a small shape and then expand when you want to use them if you are out at a restaurant.Consider this option and help reduce your waste one straw at a time.

  7. Go “Paperless”
    Paper is recyclable, but if you are looking to reduce all forms of your waste and try your best to reduce your carbon footprint, you could consider going “paperless”. You can do this in a lot of ways.First and foremost, the quickest way to go “paperless” is to opt into the paperless billing option that so many companies have these days. Essentially, this means that you will no longer receive paper bills in the mail. You will receive a bill via email, or you can sign up for autopay where they don’t even have to send an email at all. Either way, signing up for any and all of your bills for paperless that have the option available will significantly lessen the amount of mail you are receiving on the monthly basis.Other smaller ways that you could go “paperless” include sending email invitations to parties and events instead of paper mail, taking notes on a phone, tablet, or computer, reading e-books instead of purchasing physical books, and so on.Take some time to consider all of the ways that you could limit your paper use and impact our environment for the better.
  8. Buy Second Hand
    It is very safe to say that we live in a consumerist society. People like stuff, and people want to buy a lot of it. It seems like every few months trends and styles change, inciting people to race to the stores to buy the newest and coolest items. But what do people do with their other items? Great question. While some may donate unwanted goods or attempt to sell them, many items such as clothes, shoes, gadgets, etc. will end up in the trash.One environmentally conscious way you can shop is by shopping secondhand. Thanks to the Internet, there are countless websites that focus on reselling goods and clothes to people. Not to mention, there are also physical stores that do this as well such as consignment shops and thrift stores.By buying something that has already been made and bought previously, you are helping reduce your waste. As with some of the other examples, you are also saving a great deal of money. Items at resale shops and websites are sold at a fraction of the price that they would have been brand new. So, why not save some extra cash and help save the planet at the same time?
  9. Buy Less
    One step even better to buying secondhand is to simply buy less stuff. As previously mentioned, the more we buy, the more we will eventually need to throw out. In recent years, there have been trends of being “minimalist”, meaning people who own the bare essentials and nothing more.While you don’t have to go to the extreme, it may be worth a try to simply evaluate whether or not you truly need something the next time you go to the store.
  10. Buy in Bulk
    When grocery shopping, a great way to reduce your waste is to buy items that you typically purchase in bulk. When buying in bulk, some stores allow customers to even bring their own containers to fill, thus reducing waste by preventing you from buying yet another container of your favorite snack.If grocers do not allow customers to bring their own containers or simply don’t have a section like that, buying the bigger version of your favorite item can also help eliminate waste. For example, let’s say your family loves peanut butter. You go through a jar a week. Well, that means that each week you are having to dispose of said jar. But, if your family buys the jumbo-sized peanut butter and you are able to make it last every two weeks, you are helping reduce your peanut butter jar waste by 50%.
  11. Recycle Food Containers
    In our section on responsibly disposing of waste, we discussed recycling at length. However, we didn’t go into details on how you can recycle for yourself. When buying various foods at grocery stores, they have to come in some sort of container.This container will then, eventually, turn into your waste. But, the good news is that it doesn’t have to! When buying items at the grocery store, try picking items that come in either easily recyclable materials (such as cardboard) or materials that can be reused in your home, such as glass. For example, if you buy pasta sauce in a glass jar. You can then recycle that jar once the pasta sauce has been used as a nut and seed container. Simply peel the lid, write a new label, and use it in your pantry!There are so many ways that you can recycle your food containers and help eliminate even more waste!
  12. Upcycle
    Another really fun way to reduce your waste is to upcycle! Unleash your creative side and use various items that would be typically sent to the garbage can to create something new and fun!As with the example of the glass pasta jar above, instead of reusing it as a nut and seed container, you could paint it, throw some ribbon around it, and call it a new vase!Or, if you have a bunch of old t-shirts from high school or college, you could put them together and make a t-shirt quilt. That way, you are not throwing away the items, you are upcycling them into a new and improved creation!There are so many different ways that you can upcycle pretty much any item in your home. So, before you consider throwing something out, try thinking creatively!
  13. Shop Consciously
    Lastly, shopping consciously at stores, companies, and businesses that prioritize reducing waste as one of their values is another way that you can reduce your waste. By learning about how companies reduce their waste and responsibly dispose of their waste and only spending your money at those companies, you are sending a message. You are making a conscious decision to support businesses (ideally local) that share the same values as you.

Waste and Environmentally Conscious Companies

At Reduction In Motion, we work with all kinds of different companies, both big and small, who are looking to think differently about how they handle waste. From hospitals to small businesses to universities, we’ve seen it all.

As sustainability consultants, we are invited into other companies to help them learn and evaluate how they can best dispose of their waste responsibly. From recycling to composting, we show companies where they can improve, and even save a little money along the way.

It’s important to support these types of companies that take the time to evaluate their business and its impact on the environment. While how they handle their waste is important, there are also other things to consider when you are looking to do business with or spend a great deal of money somewhere. Here are the following things to consider…

  • Waste management – Do they recycle? Do they compost? Or do they simply label everything as “trash”?
  • Eco-Friendly Marketing – This could mean a couple of different things. First and foremost, are most of their advertisements and marketing presence “paperless”? Or do they spam their potential customers with all sorts of flyers, etc.?If the company is even more proactive about conservation and saving the environment, they may even incorporate messages of being eco-friendly to their customers and employees. This could include having a company-wide participation in Earth Day or having different environment awareness activities throughout the company.
  • Energy Efficient Buildings – Companies that prioritize the environment and want to minimize their impact may also proudly display the energy efficient steps that they are taking within their building. Whether that’s energy-efficient light bulbs, utilizing solar panels, and so on, they make it a point to make their work environments as eco-friendly as possible.
  • Eco-Friendly Packaging and Supplies – Another thing to look for, especially in the online store market, is for quality eco-friendly packaging and supplies. For example, they may ship only in 100% recycled boxes or utilize 100% recycled packing paper to fill the inside. This will also give you an indication that this company sets the environment as a priority in their business.

We’re sure there’s a list a mile long of all the small things that companies can do to show their customers and employees that they are going to great lengths to make a difference with their platform.

Businesses and corporations account for a large percentage of waste and have an overall big difference on the environment based on the decisions they make. By making sure that you work for and shop from places that are conscious of this big responsibility that they have, you may not realize it, but you’re making a difference. Consumers and where they choose to send their money influences decisions of other companies. If companies who are not making environmentally conscious choices when it comes to their waste and other decisions see that people are spending their money elsewhere, they will begin to pick up on the fact that it is a priority to their consumers. Thus, they will start making it a priority themselves.

Conclusion

When most people address the waste problem, it is typically met with a great deal of doom and gloom. It’s met with really scary statistics and big, alarming numbers. While the waste problem in the United States (and the world) is quite frightening to think about when it comes to sustainability and the environment, the fear shouldn’t be the focus.

By focusing on the negative, people have a tendency to feel overwhelmed. Oftentimes, when you learn about huge overwhelming numbers, it can feel like there’s no point in trying to help because there’s absolutely no way that you could make a considerable difference. But, that just simply isn’t the case.

If you look at the numbers, while waste is still a huge issue, people are becoming more and more aware of both how to responsibly dispose of their waste in a more sustainable manner. Likewise, thanks to movements such as Earth Day, people are becoming more educated about reducing their waste and how simple changes like the ones listed above are a great starting point to truly making an impact on the world.

But, we can’t just be thinking about our planet once a year. We need constant efforts to make a change. As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and neither will the problem of waste. But, over time, if people start learning more about being responsible with their trash and making more mindful decisions, we can start to see even more improvements.